With its humble, friendly citizens, prudent drinking laws and focus on banking and business, Toronto was never known for its glamour – until now, that is.
Skyrises have mushroomed over the skyline here over the past decades to house the plethora of immigrants from everywhere from the surrounding suburbs to Syria. The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is a magnet for A-Listers, and a new generation of hip hotels has sprouted to accommodate them.
One of those hotels is the Bisha Hotel. Situated in the very heart of downtown Toronto’s Entertainment District, Bisha Hotel is a beautifully designed boutique accommodation surrounded by the city’s core attractions, including Rogers baseball stadium, the Second City comedy venue and the CN Tower. It boasts three restaurants, a lobby bar and a very popular rooftop infinity pool.
But what really stands out about this hotel is the lavish interior spaces. These were principally designed by Alessandro Munge of Studio, although the hotel’s 7th floor has a celebrity touch, thanks to none other than rock star Lenny Kravitz and his firm, Kravitz Design Inc.
Upon entering the hotel, I was blasted with an ultra sensual treat of black marble, etched gold and crushed velvet. In fact, all public spaces here can best be described as ‘sexy’, with their rich textiles, glossy stones and chic art; mainly perennially hip Warhol prints.
After a quick check in, I boarded the lift to my room, where I was delighted to behold luxuries like a wet bar cart, huge flat-screen TV and coffee maker. Old-school glam was provided by black-piped duvets on the beds, patent leather sofas in the lounges, and floor-to-ceiling windows dressed with black velvet curtains, whilst snakeskin wallpaper, dimmer-switch lighting and a room service menu inviting me to ‘Eat Drink Repeat’ add a more decadent, party vibe.
Being on my own, I was not much in party mode, so I ventured out for some food. Bisha’s main restaurant runs a Japanese theme, with internationally renowned Chef Akira Back providing a tantalising list of tempura, sushi, sashimi and other foods loved by jet setters, whilst KOST, on the 44th floor, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with spectacular views over this fast-growing city.
I decided to visit KOST, and chose one of the few vegan options on their rather rather international menu: Mojo de Ajo Tofu. It was spicy and tasty and different, but I was a bit wary of eating tofu in a country where GMO soya is so prevalent. It would have been nice to have seen more animal-free items on the menu.
My favourite public space had to be the Bar Room. Adjacent to the lobby, this is a seductive space with lush, low furniture, flattering lighting, and even more art (this time, Damien Hirst). Its lengthy cocktail and whisky menu, soft music and discreet staff make this the perfect place for a romantic encounter, and made me a bit wistful for my husband’s company.
In fact, the Bisha Hotel is so steeped in seduction, it seems a pity to stay here on your own. Sure, they accommodate everyone from business travellers to families, but this is an environment that simply oozes sexiness; it’s more a like a well furnished love nest than a mere hotel.
Toronto has often been dubbed – rather pejoratively – ‘Toronto the Good’. But with the coming of hotels like Bisha, that could soon well change to ‘Toronto the Glam’.
Standard rooms from 329 Canadian dollars (£185) in low season; and from 499 Canadian dollars (£285) in high season. Breakfast not included (from 14 Canadian dollars/£8). Free Wi-Fi.